Bruins’ Cam Neely Ready To Leave ‘Frustrating’ Draft Narrative Behind Don Sweeney

'I'm tired of talking about 2015'

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Oct 10, 2022

BRIGHTON, Mass. — The Bruins may never live the 2015 NHL Entry Draft down.

Boston had three consecutive first-round picks and drafted Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn. While Senyshyn is with the Utica Comets of the New Jersey Devils organization, Jakub Zboril looks strong after his ACL surgery last year and has a legitimate chance of working out while DeBrusk saw a vast improvement in his game after a move to the first line.

However the Bruins passed on Matthew Barzal, Kyle Connor and Thomas Chabot in that draft, who all have had great success in the NHL.

So when Don Sweeney got a contract extension in the offseason and Bruce Cassidy was relieved of his head coaching duties, the way Sweeney drafted became a hot topic. The Bruins haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 2011. They’ve made two other appearances but came up short, including in 2019 on home ice in Game 7 against the St. Louis Blues.

We constantly hear fans talk about “what could have been” if the Bruins drafted Barzal and the 2015 draft probably is one Bruins management and fans want to leave in the rearview mirror.

During Monday’s media day, Bruins president Cam Neely was asked how he thought Sweeney handled his job last year, especially after getting his extension, and gave a passionate defense of the general manager.

“Well, the narrative, quite frankly, is a little frustrating to me. I mean we’ve said it many times from a draft perspective, we have missed on the high side, especially in 2015 and I’m tired of talking about 2015,” Neely said at Warrior Ice Arena. “But if you look at who the Boston Bruins have drafted, say from maybe 2015 to 2018 — it may be a little unfair to look at players from 2019 through 2021 in their development stage — but if you look at the players the Boston Bruins have drafted and how many NHL games they’ve played, I think it’s amongst some of the highest in the league.

“So, the narrative is a little old for me. Every GM in the league makes mistakes and we’re going to continue to make mistakes, but hopefully we learn from those mistakes and limit those mistakes. I think that Don has certainly evolved over the last few years and our scouting staff has evolved. We certainly have high expectations and high standards, but mistakes are going to happen, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the narrative is out there.”

It is worth noting Sweeney also is responsible for drafting Charlie McAvoy in 2016 and Jeremy Swayman in 2017, so it hasn’t all been a miss. Then there’s Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei who truly have NHL potential, but we won’t know if the B’s hit on them for a few more years. But drafting hasn’t been the Bruins’ strongest suit and they don’t have a lot of homegrown talent.

With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci potentially playing in their final seasons, fans want to be assured that the future is in good hands.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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